When Johnson Brothers was founded in 1883 by Frederick and Alfred Johnson, their goal for their Staffordshire pottery was to produce an earthenware called “White Granite,” which is marked on many early pieces as “SEMI PORCELAIN.” It was a great material for dinnerware because it looked like china but was as tough as ironstone. As it turned out, though, White Granite would not be the product for which Johnson Brothers would become best known.

By 1888, Frederick and Alfred’s elder brother, Henry, had joined the company, which produced its wares in a factory called the Charles Street Works in Stoke-on-Trent, as well as at two other facilities nearby. By the end of the century, the family’s fourth brother, Robert, joined his siblings from a satellite office in New York, the number of Johnson Brothers potteries would climb to five, and the ware for which the firm would become most famous, transferware, would be added to the line.

With Robert drumming up sales in America, Johnson Brothers products were soon selling well in the United States, where transferware and flow blue porcelain were very popular. The quality of the ware was unquestioned, but the company’s mid-range pricing made it easy for people to fill their cupboards with Johnson Brothers products.

In the early part of the century, the sons of the brothers joined the firm to lead sales efforts across Europe. After World War I, during the 1920s, a new colored clay called “Dawn” was introduced—it came in gray, rose, green, and gold. By the end of the decade, several Johnson grandsons had also joined the firm.

Flow blue patterns produced by Johnson Brothers in the early years of the 20th century included Albany, Astoria, Brooklyn, Claremont, Clarence, Clayton, Del Monte, Dresden, Eclipse, Florida, Fulton, Jewel, Montana, Neopolitan, Normandy, Oregon, Oxford, Pansey, Peach, Pekin, Persian, Princeton, Richmond, Royston, Stanley, St. Louis, Tokio, Tulip, Venice, and Vienna. Later, in the teens and early 1920s, Andora, Argyle, Coral, Georgia, Holland, Kenworth, Mongolia, Savoy, Sterling, and Turin were introduced.

Most Johnson Brothers marks from those years had a crown on them, some with squared-off corners. The pattern name was sometimes printed with quotes around it, but more often it went without.

Beyond flow blue, Johnson Brothers produced numerous transferware patterns for its plates, platters, and pitchers. The firm is most often associated with patterns featuring wild ...

The 1930s saw the shuttering of the company’s original Charles Street Works and the replacement of its traditional coal-fired “bottle” kilns for all-electric tunnel versions. With a Depression on, it was a good time to modernize in the hopes of better days ahead.

After World War II, pieces in the Friendly Village pattern were widely sought, as were the company’s Christmas plates. By the 1950s, cups and saucers in the Carnival line featured bold solid colors and cups with tapering bases. The look was very Mid-century Modern, which was a long way from the company’s aesthetic roots. Finally, in 1968, unable to remain independent any longer, Johnson Brothers joined the Wedgwood Group.

About our sources | Got something to add?

▼ Expand to read the full article ▼

Best of the Web (“Hall of Fame”)



Steve Birks' super deep site is a tribute to a bygone era, chronicling how a pottery center of excellence (they did… [read review or visit site]

The Bowes Museum: Ceramics

The Bowes Museum: Ceramics

This gallery showcases highlights from the 5,000 items in the museum's ceramics collection dating from 1500-1900. I… [read review or visit site]

Ceramics at The V&A

Ceramics at The V&A

A great reference on ceramics from the Victoria and Albert Museum. Learn about different ceramics techniques and st… [read review or visit site]

Clubs & Associations

Most watched eBay auctions    

Paragon Minty Green Wide Cup Saucer Lg Red Pink Rose Signed R. Johnson Set Of Johnson Bros "dream Town" (7) Plates, (8) Saucers, (16) Bowls - EnglandVintage Johnson Brothers Merry Christmas 20 1/8" Oval Turkey Serving Platter Bauer Fred Johnson Hand Thrown 7" Vase Blue Glaze Very Good ConditionVintage Soup Tureen With Lid & Ladle, Friendly Village By Johnson Bros., EnglandJohnson Bros Coaching Scenes Blue Transfer Coffee PotVintage Coffeepot, Friendly Village By Johnson Bros., Made In EnglandSet Of 5 Johnson Bros Wild Turkeys Native American 8" Salad PlatesSet Of 4 Johnson Bros Wild Turkeys Native American 8" Salad PlatesVintage Johnson Bros. "merry Christmas" 12" Serving Punch Bowl EnglandJohnson Brothers Friendly Village Pie ServerJohnson Brothers His Majesty Turkey Dishes 16 Peices NewNew Orleans Estate Howard Johnsons Restaurant 50's Coffee Cup Hotel China Bar Set Of 4 Johnson Brothers Wild Turkey Native American Windsor Ware Dinner PlatesVintage Teapot, Friendly Village Sugar Maples By Johnson Bros., Made In EnglandJohnson Brothers England Regency White Swirl 10.5" Dinner Plates Set Of 6Vintage Johnson Brothers China - Friendly Village - Sugar & CreamerVintage Johnson Brothers Tally Ho "stirrup Cup" Oval Serving Platter Dream Town By Johnson Brothers Oval Small Serving Dish/plate 9 X 11 1/2 " Set Of 4 Johnson Brothers Merry Christmas Coasters 2 7" & 1 6 3/8" The Covered Bridge, The Friendly Village Johnson Bros BowlsParagon Wide Rimmed Retriever Artist Signed Tea Cup & Saucer England R.johnsonVintage Oval Platter, Friendly Village Harvest Time, By Johnson Bros., EnglandJohnson Brothers The Friendly Village Set Of 4 Dinner Plates MintSet Of 3 Johnson Brothers Rose Chintz (pink) Dessert Cereal Bowls3 Vintage Johnson Bros Friendly Village 7.5" Soup Cereal Bowls Covered BridgeAntique Flow Blue Johnson Brothers England Oval Serving Plate PlatterVintage Johnson Bros 'old Britain Castles' Transferware 10" Plate (england)Johnson Bros. Blue Coaching Scenes Bread And Butter Plate Blue On White6 - Johnson Bro Friendly Village "autumn Mists" 8 1/4" Round Veg. Serving BowlVintage 1940-50's 10 Piece Game Birds Johnson Brothers Oval Plates & CupsHoward Johnson's Ice Cream, Old Caribe China PlatterJohnson Brothers Friendly Village One Set Salt & Pepper Shakers Free ShipVintage Howard Johnson's "pie Man" Heavy Porcelain Creamer/syrupBox Only For Johnson Brothers Old Britain Castles Tea Set - Nice For Storage!Johnson Bros Hearts And Flowers 4 Cereal Bowls PerfectJohnson Brothers Friendly Village Oversized Cup (s) Only Lot Of 2Johnson Brothers Heritage Oval Covered Vegetable Dish EnglandJohnson Brothers Blue Willow 4 Soup/ Cereal Bowls 8 5/8" Diameter Brand New!One (1) Johnson Brothers Blue Onion Pattern 7" BowlVintage Johnson Bros 'haddon Hall' Minature PlateOld Britain Castles, Johnson Bros, Pink, Red Transferware, 10 X 12 Platter, OldFour Johnson Brothers~blue Willow~7 3/4" Diameter PlatesSet Of 5 Johnson Bros Staffordshire Old Granite Fruit Sampler Dinner PlatesVintage Soap/shaving Dish W / Liner & Cover Johnson Brothers EnglandHoward Johnson Pieman Simple Simon Restaurant Ware Salad Plate Walker China1963 Vintage Johnson Brothers Of England Windsor Ware Garden Bouquet Demitasse CupJohnson Brother's Fine English China - Cup & Saucer Set - Pink Green Gold Border